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Elise P. Church
Brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Sunset Park

ARTIST STATEMENT: Recovery and loss are at the heart of my practice and the driving force behind my work as an artist. I grew up in the sixties and seventies and lived in many homes and cities. My fractured family contracted and expanded with time. My childhood keepsakes are gone. This consummate effort to collect memorabilia and forgotten treasure provides the inspiration and medium for my work. In 2013, I found a faux-wood vinyl covered photo album from the mid-sixties. It belonged to a middle school-aged boy whose collection of carefully preserved pictures provided traces of his life: the dog, the family car, christmas day celebrations and his communion. The nostalgic imagery and the print itself resplendent with period textiles and interiors contained colors and patterns that have motivated three years of collage, painting and drawing. The small photo-collage series titled “Dunluce Drive” began with focus on the periphery of the found photographs. The subject was excised from the rectangular print playing with positive and negative space and creating an abstract, layered object with a physical void in the center. The next series of snapshot sized photo-collages called “Pairings” removed the subject by obliteration. Combining two prints, the original and a cut portion of another, gave a focal point that was no longer a void but a considered visual compliment or contrast to the remaining image. Finally, in opposition to the subject-empty collages, I created intimate graphite drawings from a peephole view of the original print. (Unlike before, these photographs are now my own family pictures). The image hints at the subject but is reoriented to preserve the total recognizability of the subject. As a child, I used to look into a slightly opened fist like a scope to view a cozy, safe version of where I was. I am reminded of that sentiment when I am drawing these closed spaces. I titled this series, “Portals/Portholes”, based on that personal view and in reference to the many vacations spent on boats. Lastly, to create a print-like object, I borrowed the stamped numbers, dates and registration marks from old photos and added them to the drawing. Salvaging and reimagining the printed photograph in a digital world is especially appealing to me because nothing is permanent or tangible anymore. The small photo-collages and drawings are my own effort to seek to safeguard what is lost- a scrap of 1960’s kitchen wallpaper, a striped pillow, a pink aluminum lawn chair.

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